NEW CANEY -- Kilgore and El Campo both came into Friday's Class 4A Division I area round playoff game behind the reputation of strong running games.

Both of them lived up to it. But one team was able to capitalize on opponents' mistakes in the first half, and that team was El Campo.

The Ricebirds ended Kilgore's season at Texan Drive Stadium, a 31-23 victory which allows El Campo to advance in the playoffs to meet Silsbee or Sealy. For Kilgore, the season comes to a close with a district title and a first-round playoff victory.

Kilgore got into trouble in the first half, and El Campo took advantage of a few miscues to build a 28-9 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs (8-4) bounced back, but it was almost too little, too late.

Kilgore scored two second-half touchdowns, but it had problems stopping the Ricebirds' running game, led by Kevin Dove and Alontae Harris.

Late in the second half, though, it was a pass that sealed El Campo's win.

Faced with a fourth-and-9 near the Bulldogs' 20-yard-line, with about 1:20seconds remaining, El Campo elected to go for the first down rather than punt the football and give Kilgore a chance at a potential game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.

El Campo quarterback Ernest Arrambide took a gamble and threw the ball to his brother, Wesley Arrambie, inside Kilgore's 5-yard line. It was a jump-ball, setting the Ricebirds up with first-and-goal at Kilgore's 2, with 1;14 left.

El Campo knelt on first down, and although the ball appeared to come out on a fumble, officials had flagged El Campo for delay of game, so Kilgore didn't get the ball back. El Campo ran out the remaining clock and sealed the win.

The victory was built on a strong first half that Kilgore just couldn't overcome. El Campo forced Kilgore to a three-and-out and then took over at Kilgore's 40-yard-line after a 13-yard punt. The Ricebirds got on the board first, midway through the first quarter, when Ernest Arrambide, the quarterback, faked a handoff and then rolled to his left to escape Kilgore defenders for a 6-yard touchdown run.

Kilgore got a 41-yard field goal by Christian Galvan early in the second quarter, and trailed 7-3.

But El Campo sought the big play, and got it -- Harris got free on the Ricebirds' next drive for a 50-yard score.

Kilgore coughed the ball up on a fumble on its next drive.

El Campo made the Bulldogs pay. Ernest Arrambide, on third-and-goal at the 13-yard line, found Wesley Arrambide wide open in the back of the end zone for a 21-3 lead

The Ricebirds went up by another touchdown just a minute and a half later. Harris got free for a 46-yard scoring run.

Kilgore's best drive of the first half was its last.

Set up by a 25-yard return by Caylon Williams to midfield, Kilgore quarterback Patrick Jackson strung some completions together -- to Cole Wood, A.J. Henson and finally to Chris Toombs, down to El Campo's 3-yard-line. Tailback Ja'Quorius Smith scored on the following play, but the point after was blocked and the Bulldogs trailed 28-9 at the break.

Kilgore used quite a bit of clock in the third quarter on its first possession and came away with points.

A 29-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Smith which got Kilgore within 12 points, 28-16, with 3:21 left in the third quarter.

El Campo extended its lead to 31-16, on a 36-yard field goal, but saw that cut, as well, when Kilgore scored on a 32-yard run by Smith.

The Bulldogs, trailing by a touchdown and a two-point conversion, traded possessions with El Campo, but the Ricebirds escaped.

Dove finished with 148 yards rushing. Harris had the two big-play touchdown runs, and El Campo wound up with 302 yards rushing on the night. All of El Campo's passes went to Wesley Arrambide, who had three catches for 66 yards and the first-half score.

Kilgore got 92 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Smith and 69 yards rushing from Jackson.

Jackson went 7-of-13 for 78 yards and the touchdown pass to Smith.